The doctor is just settling in for lunch when his tablet lights up with a large, red exclamation point. He glances down just long enough to see which patient is involved and breathes a sigh of relief. The patient in question is stable after routine surgery, and the alert is probably nothing. He eats his sandwich, then returns to the floor to find the patient headed to the Intensive Care Unit.
“Alert fatigue” has become a common problem for hospitals across the country. The federal government has provided incentives for doctors and hospitals to switch to digital systems which streamline and standardize many things. One of the things standardized is alerts. The new systems often don’t differentiate between patients and their circumstances, nor indicate the severity of the situation. The same alert message might appear for all of the following:
- A young man in his twenties having minor difficulties breathing
- An older woman in her sixties in cardiac arrest
- A med given half an hour late, but no serious issues are apparent
- A patient having a potentially deadly allergic reaction to a medication
Because hospitals are letting the technology dictate the care, some patients are dying or being seriously injured because doctors are treating all alerts the same. Hospitals are following the letter of the law to get their subsidies, without paying proper attention to patient safety.
If you or someone you love has been killed or injured due to hospital negligence, finding out just what happened during the incident can be incredibly difficult. All too often the hospital will circle the wagons and not provide meaningful answers. Please contact an experienced attorney who knows how to force a hospital to answer questions and take responsibility for their errors.